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Top 5 Benefits of a Container Home

Container Home

Container homes are rising in popularity as eco-friendly and affordable housing options in the face of shortages and the rising cost of living. For municipalities and Indigenous reserves, container homes offer fast, economical, easy-to-maintain, and dignified affordable housing. For young people who are priced out of the competitive housing market while facing rent that’s as high as mortgage payments, container homes provide unparalleled access to home ownership. And with increasing numbers of families living in multi-generational homes–between adult children and aging parents–container homes as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) provide privacy and independent living quarters or rental income opportunities.

With all of our current challenges around housing–and the opportunities offered by container homes that we’ve just taken a glimpse at–container houses are increasingly sought after. So, what are the benefits of container homes for all the above groups, compared to more traditional forms of housing? Read on to discover the top 5 benefits of container homes.

Benefit #1: Cost-Effective Construction

With a rising cost of living and housing supply shortage (the CMHC says we’d need 5.8 million new homes in Canada by 2030 to solve it), the cost-effective nature of container homes is a top benefit to homebuyers, municipalities, and Indigenous communities alike.

Traditional stick-built homes are costly and inefficient to build. Between the cost of materials, labour, and transportation of both when building outside a major city, traditional homes require a significant investment just to get the project started. This is important for families, municipalities facing tight budgets, and Indigenous communities, particularly in the North, where they’re often located far away from a city.

Container homes, on the other hand, are much more cost-effective to build. For example, here at DSS Container Designs, our Affordable Housing Boxes range from just $39-100K. This investment includes everything, from designs to finishings. The only costs not included are electrical and water hookups–but you may not even need them if you were to go with off-grid options!

Why are container homes so much more affordable than traditional homes? Here are a few key factors:

  • They start with an existing, steel substructure (the shipping container). Foundation work is eliminated, which puts you ahead in the construction process and saves time and materials.

  • They’re built off-site at the designer/builder’s home base which eliminates the need to transport materials and people for labour.

  • Turnaround time is cut down by months or even years because of the existing substructure and streamlined, home base build process, which reduces the cost of labour, storage, and more.

Now, container homes are not only more cost-effective to build than traditional stick-built homes–they’re also more affordable to maintain. The steel substructure is durable against the elements and mould, lasting decades with minimal maintenance. Plus, all of DSS Container Design’s container homes are built to Passive House standards which makes them 70-80% more energy efficient, saving thousands of dollars per year in utility bills!

Benefit #2: Sustainable Living

Container homes also stand out for how incredibly eco-friendly they are.

First off, reusing the steel shipping container as the substructure of a home reduces waste (11 million shipping containers sit unused each year), and reduces the carbon footprint associated with construction materials.

Secondly, the steel substructure lends itself perfectly to building DSS container homes to Passive House standards, which means they’re up to 80% more energy efficient than traditional homes! A few features of Passive Houses include that they’re designed to use energy from the sun for heating in winter–let’s face it, most of the year in Canada–as well as cooling techniques such as shading for hot days. The homes are expertly insulated, ventilated, and airtight so as not to lose temperature or air quality. Passive Houses don’t need complex cooling or heating systems installed, and they use far less electricity or oil to regulate temperature, preserving vital resources while also reducing costs.

In addition to the inherent benefits of a container home built to Passive House standards, our container homes can go the extra mile in terms of off-grid, sustainable options for electricity (like solar panels), plumbing (like rainwater harvesting systems and composting or incinerating toilets), and more. Container homes are undeniably the eco-friendly housing model of the future!

Benefit #3: Durability and Strength

Container houses offer durability and strength that’s unparalleled with traditional homes, especially as we go further North where the climate and soil are tough on wooden structures.

Shipping containers are built strong enough to withstand the elements, from salt water to hurricanes, so when converted to container houses, they can stand up to harsh Canadian climates, including the wet and cold, to prevent degradation and mould. This also makes container homes easy and cost-effective to maintain.

For many of the Indigenous reserves we work with here at DSS Container Designs, their more Northern and rural locations make durable and strong container homes an increasingly important asset. Currently a lot of the aging post-war homes these communities are looking to replace are beset with mould and rotting wood substructures–container homes not only provide a fast and affordable replacement, but also one that will be inherently more durable and resistant in the face of harsh weather and soil conditions for the future.

Benefit #4: Versatile and Customizable Design

A surprising benefit for many people discovering container houses for the first time is that they offer versatile and customizable design options. They don’t necessarily even look like shipping containers! The only thing they have in common is their steel substructure, but from there you can add customizable finishings like a regular home. For example, you can put a roofline on it, siding on the outside, windows, or even a sliding patio door! You can install a deck or patio to make the exterior even cozier and more welcoming–again, just like a traditional, stick-built home.

Incredibly, container homes give you the opportunity to combine containers for unique layouts and living spaces. You can explore adding multiple levels or an open floor plan. You can even build your home keeping in mind the possibility of an extension in future as your family grows!

On the inside, the furnishings and decorative possibilities are endless. You might want to go comfortably minimalist to maximize economy, space, or simply embrace a Nordic aesthetic. This might be an appealing option to municipalities and Indigenous reserves building container homes en masse so that they’re comfortable, dignified, and leave room for the occupants to add some personal character. It could also be desirable to start with a minimalist aesthetic for families and individuals who are, simply, minimalists!

You can also go all out on your furnishings and home design if you like. Just like with a traditional stick-built home, you can add everything from wooden to marble countertops, and choose tiles, light fixtures, and storage options that suit your budget and design aesthetic. Select a shower or bathtub according to what you’d use most–you can even choose an incinerating or composting toilet if their eco-friendly and off-grid nature is important to you. Or don’t–we can get you hooked up to electricity and plumbing if you’d like! Make your kitchen your haven, with the appliances at a size that matches your family, and gas or electric per your preference and taste. We could go on…the point is that your container home can be as customizable and comfortable, minimalist or extravagant, as your heart desires–especially when you consider the budget you saved in contrast to a stick-built home!

Benefit #5: Legitimacy and Financing

The final benefit of container homes we’ll look at in this blog post is that they’re a completely legitimate housing option across Canada. Even in provinces like Ontario which have strict constraints around alternative housing types (just look at the frustration of the tiny house community here), container homes are fully accepted both on a legal and financing level.

Container houses can be approved as Accessory Dwelling Units (also called Granny, In-Law, or Laneway suites) for families and renters as well as Primary Dwellings! In fact, we at DSS Container Designs pride ourselves on making this even easier for you–we review building codes and zoning regulations and make sure your project obtains all necessary permits. It couldn’t be easier or a more sure thing.

On a financing level, container homes also receive the benefits of traditional home mortgages. The CMHC can approve them for financing as primary dwellings or ADUs! That’s right–you can get financing on your container home–which we mentioned earlier could be an investment from $39K-100K. There is no more affordable and accessible route to home ownership today than a container home.

Summarizing the Top 5 Benefits of a Container Home

The benefits of container homes compared to traditional stick-built houses are undeniable for young people, families, municipalities, and Indigenous reserves alike. With benefits including cost-effectiveness, sustainability, durability, comfort, and access to CMHC financing, it’s no wonder container designs are booming in popularity. Having left the world of traditional home construction ourselves in favour of container designs as the way of the future, we encourage you to continue exploring the benefits and possibilities of container designs.


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